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Constituents call on Donovan to pass the Dream Act and protect young Americans

Urgent call for support before March 5 deadline

March 1, 2018 Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan. Eagle file photo by John Alexander

According to a statement from Housing Works Director of Policy Reed Vreeland, U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan must address the need for a Dream Act. Vreeland cites the Center for American Progress analysis that there are nearly 41,970 DACA recipients in New York whose futures and opportunities are threatened by President Trump’s decision to end the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

With a looming March 5 deadline, constituent Genna Goldsobel says the need for Donovan to address the Dream Act is urgent. “Despite his vague and questionable generalized support for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Congressman Dan Donovan has done little to move forward a legislative solution for these young Americans even though the deadline is imminent,” Goldsobel said. “Donovan keeps trying to play both sides of the issue. When asked outright whether he would vote yes and support a clean Dream Act that would not put money in the wall at the U.S-Mexican border or increase funding for agents whose jobs are to separate DACA families, he just repeats the same general platitudes about supporting both positions even when they’re in clear opposition to one another. At a time when the rights of  people who have lived and worked here in the U.S. for most of or for their entire lives are under daily threat, his kind of partisan, political equivocation, pandering, and tap-dancing is disgraceful.

According to a statement from Donovan’s District Director/Communications Director, Donovan and his staff have met with immigration advocates countless times since he took office nearly three years ago and they are fully aware that he supports a legislative solution for DACA. “He even wrote a joint op-ed with with one advocate in the Washington Post discussing his position.

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“Our immigration system is broken and needs a comprehensive overhaul,” Donovan said. “Children who were brought here by their parents had no choice in the matter, and they shouldn’t suffer because of their parents’ decisions. But any repairs we make are meaningless unless we stop illegal immigration. We’re a sovereign nation and it’s our responsibility to know who enters and leaves through our borders. I fully support President Trump’s push to secure the border and will continue advocating in the Homeland Security Committee to make it happen.”

According to a University of Southern California (USC) study, there are over 5,500 Dream Act-eligible residents in Donovan’s 11th Congressional district, which covers the entire borough of Staten Island and takes in all parts of several neighborhoods in Southwest Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.

Furthermore the USC study indicates that the annual GDP (gross domestic product) loss from deporting DACA workers would amount to approximately $134 million in the district.

“Alternatively, Representative Donovan’s district stands to gain $214 million if the Dream Act is passed,” Vreeland said. “More importantly, this is the only way to save the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers at risk of deportation.”

On Saturday, Feb. 24th, a group of demonstrators delivered a miniature Statue of Liberty to Donovan along with signs urging him to stand up for Dreamers and pass the Dream Act. “Don’t Deport Dreamers,” some signs said. Vreeland adds that some Constituents were also upset about Donovan’s vote to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“As a representative of a community with a large number of senior citizens, Rep. Donovan should be particularly concerned with preserving the rights of the disabled. Instead, he chose to vote along party lines instead of standing up for the vulnerable people in his district,” said Kate Barnhart, who lives in congressional district 11. “As a constituent who is living with a disabling illness, I do not feel that Congressman Donovan is representing me adequately and I will not be voting for him,” she said.

Regarding his stand on people with disabilities, Donovan told the Brooklyn Eagle, “People with disabilities deserve reasonable accommodations so they can access the same services as everybody else. Under the current system, though, lawyers have free reign to extort small business owners for thousands of dollars because of minor violations. In fact, even small business owners with disabilities have themselves been sued for ADA violations. It’s good public policy to give business owners an opportunity to remedy a problem before rushing to court to file a lawsuit.”

Goldsobel and Vreeland say that 80 percent of the American people want Congress to pass a law that puts American Dreamers on a clear path to citizenship citing a Feb. 6, 2018 Quinnipiac poll that claims 81 percent of Americans want Dreamers to gain citizenship and that support for Dreamers also extends across party lines with 94 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Independents, and 68 percent of Republicans supporting citizenship. 

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